Maternity Leave For Real

Maternity leave did not go as expected.  I guess I just assumed that it would be nice and relaxing.  I put together a nice list of things to do and pictured myself reading and relaxing all summer and the baby just chillin’.  Wherever I went, he would go.  No big deal. Ha! 

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As I sit down to write today, I am in a good place.  Today is Samson’s first, unofficial day at daycare.  I dropped him off at 9:30 this morning while I went to Concordia for lunch and errands.  I have to remember that he’s in good hands!

Maternity leave did not go as expected.  I guess I just assumed that it would be nice and relaxing.  I put together a nice list of things to do and pictured myself reading and relaxing all summer and the baby just chillin’.  Wherever I went, he would go.  No big deal. Ha!

The first few weeks back at home, I was way too stressed out about my house being clean.  There was always shit everywhere!  I couldn’t seem to pick anything up before Sam was crying again.  I wanted things in order because I felt like I could never find anything.  My things are always in their spots and when we all got home from the hospital, I had new things to find spots for!  I decided that when/if another baby comes along, my best bet is just to hire someone to clean the house and try to care less for a little while.  Some days I was able to remember this, other days it was not so easy.

Breastfeeding did not go as I wanted it to and I really beat myself up over that for a while.  When Samson was about 6 weeks old and when I started healing from thrush, I met with a lactation consultant for one last shot at breastfeeding.  It was a little bit of a fight, but we got things going again while we were there.  At home that afternoon, we tried again with success and my hopes were high.  Then the 2 am feeding came along.  I just couldn’t seem to get him and I both positioned well enough for things to work right!  I was home by myself.  He cried.  I cried.  And in that moment, I decided this just wasn’t work the agony that both of us were going through.  I needed that moment and I needed it while I was home alone because only I could make that decision.  Not Drew, not my mom.  Just me.  What was best for me and Sam.  I finally just took it for what it is and am happy with the route that I chose.  I’ve been pumping exclusively for weeks and bottle feeding Samson.  He and I are so happy and he’s getting the awesome benefits of breastmilk.

After this profound moment, we headed out for our family vacation at the lake.  Vacation was awesome!! I didn’t want to come home!  It was so great NOT being at my house, and being somewhere that I felt I didn’t have to do anything or clean anything.  My mom would take Sam in the morning so I could get some extra sleep and we just hung out for days!

The couple of weeks following vacation were the hardest!  Samson seemed to be fussier and I think I was too.  Who isn’t bummed about coming back from vacation?  I couldn’t seem to get him fed and back to bed at night without him crying which led to more anxiety and less sleep for me.  I didn’t want to wake Drew because he had to go work in the morning.  During the day, Samson wouldn’t sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time.  My confidence as a mom dwindled.  Why couldn’t I figure out what my baby needed and why was he crying so much?  Sometimes I cried when Samson cried because I couldn’t figure out what to do.  I could see the toll this was also taking on my husband.  We were all unhappy.  I wrestled with these thoughts like, “I’m not a good mom.”, “I can’t figure this out.”, “I’m a horrible wife.”.   These thoughts crept into my mind and I did my best to wrestle them away.  I knew these weren’t true, but they were there.  I told myself these were the devil’s thoughts.  God would not have given me such a blessing if I wasn’t able to handle it.

At Samson’s two month check-up, I broke down.  Why could I not get a grip on things?  Several friends of mine had babies about the same time and seemed to be doing just fine.  I was even on the lookout for postpartum depression.  But I don’t have that, do I?  I can get through this…I just need to get a little ‘me’ time in.  You know…a little workout and a little meditation.  But when the heck am I supposed to do that?  I’ve always been hesitant to take any sort of anti-depressant or anxiety medication figuring I can fix things naturally.  My doctor prescribed a low dose anti-depressant and gave me the name of a local counselor.  The nurse even went ahead and scheduled an appointment for me with her and I just had to call and confirm.  I am so happy with my decision to switch doctors.  My doctor and nurse are so relatable and willing to share their personal stories and cell numbers with me.  After that appointment, I stayed in the room at the clinic to pump.  The nurse came in and sat on the floor with me, held the baby and told me about her experience.  For that moment, I am so grateful.  It made me feel so cared for and less like a lunatic.

That Friday evening, I threw some things in the car and headed to my mom’s house with Samson and stayed until Tuesday.  Both Friday and Saturday night, she slept downstairs with Samson and fed him at night so I could get some much-needed sleep.  I felt like a whole new person!  Sam and I needed her calm, Yaya presence.  Countless times I said to her “Thanks for being my mom!”.

Over the weekend, we researched why Samson may not be sleeping well, what to do about it and came up with a game plan.  Turns out some babies have a hard time transitioning to their next sleep cycle.  I also think he was getting over-tired.  I was spending so much time trying to lay him down fully asleep.  Once he realized he wasn’t being held anymore, he’d cry and I’d go right back to him.  We decided to let him cry it out.

We put our plan into action Sunday night when Samson was exactly 2 months old.  I put him down and left the house for 15 minutes.  When I returned, he was still crying and cried for another 5 minutes.  During that 5 minutes, I ate a lot of ice cream and cried too!  The next day was magic.  He didn’t fuss for more than 2 minutes all day and all of his naps were 1.5 to 2 hours long.  I could NOT believe it!

Now – we haven’t had a perfect day like that since, but things have been going so much better!!  Samson now has a tentative routine and is so much less fussy.  My confidence as a mother has been reestablished and our household is happy.  I am so grateful that I really got to enjoy the last four weeks of maternity leave.  Tomorrow I go back to work and that will be another adjustment for all of us.  Life is always changing.

Samson’s Birth Story

Hiring a Doula for my first pregnancy and birth was the best decision!  I loved having someone I could text/call/email during pregnancy with any questions or concerns and get a quick reply.  Drew and I were so thankful to have her helping us during Samson’s delivery.  I feel like we both really had a great experience (other than it just really hurting like hell!)  I highly recommend Carol at Salina Massage Therapy to anyone in the area.
The Labor and Birth Story of Samson Robert Duskie from a Doula’s Perspective
by Carol Rubino
Welcome to the world, Samson!  Your labor at the hospital was the perfect example of how the miracle of birth can be experienced.
You see, it all started Monday, May 29, 2017, the day before you were born.  Your mom heard a story about a woman who did a modified CrossFit workout to start her labor and it worked.  Being dilated at 2 cm your mom decided to try the same thing and it worked!  Later that evening she contacted me (Carol-the Doula) with questions about contractions.  She had started feeling tightness in her belly and some pressure. Later that evening they were sporadic, not super painful but a lot of pressure coming and going.
At 11:03 pm she sent me a picture of 30 minutes of timed contractions and asked my thoughts on it.  I told her it looked fairly normal for early labor.  I advised her to sleep for awhile and if they woke her up then try timing 5-6 contractions in a row and see how they were. She agreed.
At 11:56 pm I received a message stating that she definitely couldn’t talk through some at that point.  She was trying to relax but stated they may head to Salina soon.  At 12:15 am your mom called me and said they were leaving for Salina Regional Health Center and it would take about 90 minutes to get there.
At 1:24am on Tuesday, May 30th your mom sent me another picture of 20 minutes of timed contractions and she was definitely showing a pattern of labor.  They were 12 miles outside of Salina.  I told her I would meet them at the hospital.  I asked if she could talk through the contractions or were they requiring her full attention.  She replied with “Pretty full attention. Trying to breathe and sing thru them!  Some I just whine through! Drew (your dad) says yes.  They require my full attention.” I told her she was doing great, love the ways she was coping with them and I would see them soon.
I arrived at Salina Regional Health Center and your parents arrived shortly after.  We met in the parking lot and started walking towards the ER.  A black cat appeared but did not cross our path.  We paused and made small chat about the superstition, laughed it off and kept walking.
During registration, your mom had a few strong contractions.  Casity, our nurse from the OB floor, met us in the ER with a wheelchair.  Your mom, the champ that she is, asked if she could walk instead of using the wheelchair.  Casity took us to our labor room and your mom was admitted and cervix checked.  She was dilated 3-4cm and cervix was very very thin.  You and your mom were put on the monitors to get a read on the contractions and how well you were tolerating them.  Your heartbeat was strong and steady before, during and after each contraction.
Your mom was not thrilled about being monitored for 30-60 minutes.  During that time I rubbed and applied reflexology pressure to her feet to help keep her calm.  She was feeling a lot of discomfort in her lower back.  Your dad went to the car to grab some stuff.  On his way back to the room he got stuck in the elevator, was able to get out and then walked into the room next door by mistake.  I think your dad was a little excited or nervous or a little sleepy.
Casity attempted to put in the Saline Lock but was unsuccessful.  Another OB nurse was called in to assist and finally, it was in.  At 2:28 am the monitors were removed.  At 3:40 am portable monitors were applied so your mom could move around freely.  Your mom got up and walked around in the labor room.  Then we ventured down to look at the tub which was still filling with water.  After a bit of time, Casity checked on the tub only to find out that was filled with cold water.  It was emptied and filled with warm water.  Your mom wanted to stay in her room.  She swayed, walked, danced, sat on the labor ball and leaned on the bed and stool.  Finally, tailor sitting in bed seemed to be the most comfortable labor position for her.  She asked if we could diffuse some essential oils. I started the diffuser with Clary Sage, Lavender and Peppermint oils.  Casity informed us that the tub was ready.
After some time your mom was unsure about getting into the tub.  The contractions were feeling more intense.  We also wondered if the tub water was still warm.  I went and checked the water temperature.  I returned and suggested she try the tub for awhile to help keep her comfortable.  She agreed and off she went to labor in the warm, soothing water with the jets on her low back.  Contractions seemed to slow down but she was able to rest which is key to a successful labor and delivery.
We returned to her room and your mom requested the diffuser be turned off.  The contractions were picking up again and felt more intense.  She felt like she was leaking fluid.  Casity check her for membrane rupture and dilation.  Membranes were still intact and her cervix was dilated 4-5cm.  Making progress, slow and steady.
As time passed so did each contraction and each contraction was getting her closer to meeting you.  Many times she used profanities like “sh#*t “and “f#*k” and “this sucks!” through the pain of each contraction.  During her rest time she found her mantra of “I can do this” or “Shannon can do this” quietly under her breath.  She kept looking at the clock and I would tell her “Stop looking at it.”  Your dad and I listened for her cues like “rub my back”, “no stop”, “water” and so on.  Oh, and you were still tolerating contractions very well!
At 7:00 am shift change happened and our new nurse was Sara.  She checked your mom’s blood pressure, pulse oxygen and monitor readings.  At this point, your mom was dilated to 5-6cm.  Shortly after shift change Dr. Ablard arrived and heard about the progress you two were making throughout the night.  She felt good about it and let you both continue laboring with your team.
The next few hours were a whirlwind of activity.  Your mom decided to labor in the shower.  The warm water felt good on her low back.  She alternated between leaning on the shower chair and squatting.  Squatting felt good for her.  All of a sudden she was feeling a slight urge to push.  Sara asked your mom to come back to the bed to be checked in case she was fully dilated.  Your mom was dilated 7-8cm with a little bit of cervix still remaining.  Laboring in bed was not an option in your mom’s mind.  She got back into the shower and continued laboring with warm water on her back and belly.  Suddenly her water broke.  Sara asked your mom to return to the bed to be checked again.  She was dilated 9cm and still had some cervix present, probably a cervical lip.  At this point in labor, it was important for your mom wait to push in order to keep her cervix from swelling.  So, here’s where the breath work came in handy.  Again tailor sitting seemed to be the most comfortable position for her.  I told her to focus on her breath and “breathe in breathe out” with me.  She would do it for awhile and then lose her focus when the urge to push was too strong.  Finally, I told your dad to sit in front of her and breath with her.  That was the magic that needed to happen.  Your parents were in sync with their breath.  Your dad gazed at your mom with so much love and intention.  It was so beautiful to watch.  After awhile she quietly said to everyone in the room, “Breathe with me.”  We did and it helped with her focus and kept her in control.
During this time, OB nurses brought in Dr. Ablard’s delivery cart and pediatric nurses were prepping and warming the crib for delivery.  Dr. Ablard came in, gowned up and suggested that your mom recline with her feet in the stirrups or grab her the back of her legs and pull them toward her.  Your mom questioned that position and Dr. Ablard said it would allow her to curl around you for productive pushing.  Your mom started pushing you out at 9:37 am and at 10:17 am you were born weighing 7lbs 7.4 oz and 19 3/4 in. long.  After the umbilical cord stopped pulsating Dr. Ablard asked your dad if he would like to cut it.  He was unsure, your mom was saying “no” and Dr. Ablard handed him the scissors and guided him through the process.  He was a trooper and what a surprise to all three of us!
The motto for this whole experience has been “SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE” with a little cursing and a lot of breathing along the way.  Shannon, you made this labor look easy, you stayed with your labor process despite the pain and fatigue.  Drew, you were rock solid with Shannon.  You kept her focused and in control to the very end.  Samson, you chose the best parents.  Teach them well and learn from them.
Thank you for the privilege of assisting and witnessing your labor and delivery.  I wish you many blessings on your new journey as a family.
Carol Rubino
Professional Labor and Birth Doula

 

Needles in my Nips

!*!*!TMI Warning!*!*!

Well hello thrush. How very nice of you to show up. You feel like needles in my nipples. You’re welcome to leave sooner rather than later…

So here I am…sitting out on my back patio topless…sunning my nipples. I read that helps. I’m thinking the heat is stimulating my let down reflex a little because I’m dripping. I’ve got blankets lining the patio for privacy. Yay motherhood. The first of many glorious things I’m sure.  

There are times when I see myself in situations and think “This is so weird it’s funny!!” and “Well… I never imagined I’d be doing this! But here I am!”. And then I think about if someone saw me or took a picture of me. They would be thinking “What the fuck is she doing?” HA! This is one of those times. Though this pretty much sucks, I’m happy to have noticed the good things in the situation.

Good thing #1 – I didn’t continue to think this is ‘normal’.  I thought maybe this pain was normal or perhaps due to using incorrect sizes on my breastpump. I figured soon I’d find the right size and the pain would stop, but I tried every size and the pain continued. Finally, on Saturday morning, I called the Le Leche League Lady to get more input on where Samson and I could go next. Eventually, I would like to try nursing again, but the pain was just too much right now. I couldn’t even imagine trying to breastfeed if this condition didn’t get better. It had to get better, right? She mentioned thrush so I came home and looked that up. Yup! I self-diagnosed that quickly!  

Good thing #2 – Good people.  The book said there is an over the counter remedy, Gentian violet. I called the Downs drug-store. No luck. I called S&S. They didn’t have it. I couldn’t bare the thought of going all weekend without something to help. I asked if the pharmacist was in. Yes! He was!! Thanks for working on Saturday!! It was pretty strange telling someone you know about the fungal infection on your boobs…but whatever – the whole world knows now. He suggested I call the ER to see if I could get a prescription. I did! The nurses were great! They called the doctor and called me back right away to let know it was being sent over. It was 12:30 and the pharmacy called back to let me know they got it and they close at 1. Crap! My mom had just left Ellsworth and was planning to swing by on her way through. We made it work. 

For the little things like that, I’m grateful for Good Thing #3 – Small Town Life – where people are willing to help people out!

Good Thing #4 – Samson doesn’t have it. This condition is easily passed between baby and mama. I’m thinking we lowered the risk because I went strictly to pumping and bottle feeding for various reasons. The first few times I chose to do that, I felt like a failure. Now I see it as a blessing.

Good Thing #5 – Less noticeable tan lines.